Ghanaian fintech startup Dash, once hailed as a rising startup, is making headlines in the African tech scene, for the wrong reasons yet again.
Established with the aim of facilitating seamless money transfers by bridging the gap between mobile money wallets and bank accounts across Africa, the fintech reportedly disclosed that it is shutting down operations.
Founded in 2019 by Prince Boakye Boampong, a serial entrepreneur with previous success in co-founding OMG Digital, Dash started its journey with immense potential.
The early success of Dash was nothing short of remarkable. In March 2022, the startup raised a staggering $32.8 million in a seed round led by Insight Partners. Dash also secured $20 million in debt capital from TriplePoint Capital, reporting impressive transaction volumes and a rapidly growing user base across Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.
Overall it secured over $85 million in funding within five years from major investors and was valued at over $200 million, making it one of Africa's most valuable fintech startups. Dash also reported $1 billion in processed transactions and claimed five million users from Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.
However, Dash's journey took a tumultuous turn in March 2022 when it was forced to halt its operations in Ghana due to regulatory issues. The Bank of Ghana accused Dash of operating without the necessary regulatory approvals, setting off a chain of reactions.
In January 2023, Boampong, Dash's charismatic CEO, was temporarily suspended amid allegations of financial impropriety. Reports suggested that Dash's internal operations were plagued by financial concealment, a chaotic work environment, and arbitrary layoffs.
To address these allegations, the company initiated a forensic financial audit, placing Boampong on "indefinite administrative leave." Kenneth Kinyua, former CEO of Kopo Kopo, assumed the role of interim CEO. While the audit results were not made public, reports indicated that it uncovered elaborate fabrications intended to mislead investors.
WeeTracker, a publication closely following the Dash saga, also alleged a significant financial shortfall, exacerbated by the startup's reported burn rate of $500,000 per month. Dash's expansive operations across five countries contributed to its high overhead costs.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation was the allegation that Boampong earned $50,000 per month and had diverted millions of dollars for personal use, including property and luxury vehicles.
As this cautionary tale unfolds, Dash's journey from promise to peril serves as a sobering reminder that even the brightest stars can fall when ethical principles are compromised.